When word broke in Europe that beef has been disguised as horse meat, many other parts of the world was in frenzy about how this would affect them. Not only was it worrying to the general population but also to the many different religions especially those who have different religious practices, namely the global Muslim community.
Retailers were hit hard when the meat scandal hit South Africa, and large food chains were under the microscope after it emerged that a number of processed meat and dry meat products were mislabelled. After much public outcry, government added a gazette to the national Consumer Protection Act, which states that it requires retailers to very specifically state the ingredients, species and also any methodology of how the product was made. This counts for processed meat products and also dry meat products.
Gareth Lloyd-Jones, the managing director of Eco-wise, a food and sanitation company, said if retailers are found guilty of mislabelling they could be stopped from producing. They could also get a fine and there are also legal ramifications from the consumer. He said this is a great step for Muslims, Jews or anyone with different religious practices, due to the fact that up until now the requirements have been a bit grey.
“It would be a travesty, if one believed to have been eating, for example a beef product and there were to be pork products in that product, especially for a Muslim consumer who does not consume pork,” said Lloyd-Jones. He urged consumers to take careful attention where labelling is concerned, especially for the storage and preparation instructions on the label. Consumers should also be aware of the allergens, if they have certain allergies. He emphasized that labelling should also contain this information.
Lloyd-Jones confirmed that when consuming any form of other game, it does not pose any form of health risk other than the allergy risk. But he said the purpose of labelling is about peace of mind to know exactly what you are buying. This then allows the consumer to make an informed decision on what to buy. In terms of policing the gazette, he believes that the retail industry will become very self regulated so people can have some peace of mind. Due to the fact that they will be doing inspections of facilities, processes and methodologies, it also require producers to produce a variety of verification documentation, in order to prove that their products are within the law. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)